Jean D'Arc Chapter 10:
Duel of Saint Loup
Disclaimer: I do no own Jean or any other claymore characters that may appear. This story is based on the story of Joan of Arc or Jean D'Arc, with references to actual historical events of the 100 years war.
Credit: This story is partly inspired by "Life Sucks!" by Useful Oxymoron
Beta: Shelter (Thanks =) )
Château De Dunois, 1st of May
The noblemen of France sat around a stone table, in the courtyard of Château De Dunois, the residence of the ducal family of Orleans. Most of the men present were expressing their nervousness about the upcoming attack in their own manner, save for Gilles who seemed as emotionless as ever, and Isley, who seemed unperturbed (probably because he was, indeed, the most powerful creature alive). Much of the nervousness was due to the fact that they were somehow being bullied by a woman. Moreover, what they were about to do in 3 days time was literally the anti-thesis of French military strategy, employed faithfully by the nation for the past few centuries. Jean de Dunois has already left for Blois to gather reinforcements while La Hire was well into his second bottle of wine, while Charles of Bourbon limped to and fro about the pavilion.
"Charles! Can you stop limping around like that, you are making me dizzy and anyways, why are you even limping?" La Hire roared in frustration.
"I'm limping because of a stray arrow that hit me during the last skirmish and in three days time, if we cannot come up with a sound strategy, then I would be thankful that I can even limp and La Hire, can you get your damn face out of the wine glass already!" The angsty Count of Clermont shouted back.
"Will you two keep the volume down? I'm trying to enjoy my game here," Isley shouted over the racket, trying to break up the argument in vain while Gilles simply continued with their game of chess, paying no heed to the two men.
"Say Jean, how can you be so casual about the upcoming skirmish? You seem to be very confident of our pucelle, so confident that you can bet your whole career on her," The Duke of Alençon inquired of Isley.
"Trust me. You will have the faith in her once you see what she can do," Isley answered calmly and before he could further elaborate on his point, Jean de Metz arrived to deliver a message for all present.
"Your Grace," he greeted as he came into the presence of the nobles. "Lady Jeanne who like to ask if any of you are interested in accompanying her to St Loup."
"What for?" The duke immediately asked.
"To inspect the enemy fortifications and to make a plea for them to surrender the fortress," he answered immediately.
"Barking mad!" La Hire thundered.
"So, not only is she going to make us attack the enemy when we are unprepared, she is going to throw away any element of surprise we have by giving them a formal declaration of war?" Count Charles inquired, with a look of pure shock.
"Relax gentlemen. I'll go with her to see what she wants," Isley answered nonchalantly.
"Do what you want Sir Aulon, but I will not sacrifice the lives of our men in this foolish endeavour. Come 4th of May, the two of you are totally on your own," The Duke of Alençon replied with a smirk. This insanity had given him a completely legitimate reason to call off the offensive on the 4th of May.
En Route to St Loup
"Now my lady, can you tell me what have you got in store for the English today." Isley asked Jeanne in mock respect.
"I am going to give the English a chance to surrender and at the same time, I would like to take a look at their fortifications, so that I may be able to come up with a strategy for the attack." Jeanne answered casually.
"So, you are telling me that you plan on giving the English a fair warning before the battle?" Isley inquired, with a faint note of humour.
"That seems to be the plan, unless you got anything better." Jean replied with a shrug.
"God, you really have got no idea on how to plan a war," Isley commented, slapping his palm on his forehead. "Fine… since you don't have a plan, then we shall use mine. We will challenge the English to a fair duel, and we will humiliate their commander until their morale is broken. Then, on the 4th of May, we will go there once more and insult them till they respond to a separate challenge, then use the opportunity to get them." Isley suggested.
"And how do you plan on achieving all these?" Jeanne asked.
"First, in order to make them accept the challenge, we will have to insult them non-stop. Next, we will have to wipe the floor with them. Then, come 4th of May, we will challenge them again, giving them a chance to regain their honor. We will trash them again and when the time comes, we will tie their commanders to our horses and drag them back to our base. When that happens, the English will give chase and we can bombard the troops giving chase. Finally, we will get our troops to creep up and assault the fortress, when they are preoccupied with the artillery," Isley explained patiently.
"Won't they shoot us full of arrow when we are trying to tie their commanders to our horses?" Jeanne questioned.
"They will not send down a rain of arrows, with their commanders being so close to us. They might try and snipe us with a few of their better sharpshooters but they will not succeed not against you or me, at least. And don't forget, you have got me around. No arrow is going to hurt you, with the most powerful living thing around you. So even if they send an arrow storm, don't worry," Isley answered, causing Jeanne to blush at that comment, before quickly changing the topic: "Hey look, this is St Loup."
"Alright we'll follow through with your plan then," Jeanne said, giving Isley a brief nod, before turning to face the fortress filled with archers with bows and arrows trained on the two of them.
"Soldiers of England, I come with a message from God, for your commanders. Please get them to come forward a receive it," Jeanne declared in fluent English with a yoki enhanced voice. Shocked at the amount of power delivered by the voice of a seemingly harmless girl, the sergeant in charge of the watch quickly dashed into the command centre to get his superior Sir William Glasdale.
"I hear that a woman who has proclaimed herself to be the Maiden has come with a message for me. But I have no quarrel with you, lass. Retract your self exalting proclamations and return to the fields that natured you, lest I have you burnt on the stake for heresy," The English commander shouted confidently, as he leaned over the parapet.
"What I say to you is what I have said to your King and your reagent: settle your debt to the king of Heaven. And return to the Maiden – who is envoy of the king of Heaven – the keys to all the good towns you took and violated in France," Jeanne answered in defiance, taking no heed in the knight's words.
"Then you leave me no choice."
The commander shouted in regret, before turning over to his sergeant and giving him the order to fire the arrows. As soon as the order left his mouth, sheets upon sheets of arrows fell upon Jeanne and Isley. In the midst of shooting, many soldiers started muttering for God's blessing, hoping upon hope that they will not be the one to kill God's prophet.
Though Jeanne was no Clare or Flora in terms of speed, she was still able to parry away the incoming arrows easily, while Isley seemed throughly amused by the humans' feeble attempts to kill them. Finally, when the archers have stopped firing Isley began to shout back at the English commander. "May I know the name of the cowardly commander who dare not face a lady by himself."
"I am Sir William Glasdale, and mark my name for it will be the name of your slayer." The knight replied in rage, forgetting the show of skill he had just witnessed. Following which, he quickly grabbed his sword and dashed to meet Jeanne and Isley, gathering some of his trusted subordinates on the way.
"Seems like we have a hot-head over here. 4th of May will be even easier than expected," Isley whispered to Jeanne, with a smirk as the enraged commander rushed down to meet them.
Upon reaching the duo, the English knight threw his gauntlet before Isley and challenged him to a duel which he gladly accepted.
"Watch carefully witch, I will prove the heresy in your words by defeating your champion." Sir Glasdale seethed.
"Look, are you going to talk or are you going to prove your words? Come on, prove that God is not with us by beating me," Isley taunted.
"If you are ready then, here goes." Glasdale answered before swinging his heavy broadsword at Isley which Isley parried easily. The duel slowly degenerated into a street brawl, as he played around with the knight. First, he disarmed the English knight with a well timed slash to his wrist then he kicked away the broadsword on the ground as Glasdale tried to reach for it. Then, following up with a well timed knee to his face, Isley caused his enemy to arc backwards. He the quickly aimed a backhand on Glasdale's exposed back with astonishing reflex, making the English knight fall forward and, literally, bite the dust.
Isley then passed his sword to Jeanne and challenged Glasdale to take another shot at him. By that time, Glasdale has totally lost his mind and was charging at Isley blindly. Isley easily sidestepped the English and aimed a well timed kick at his shin, causing him to buckle in pain. The kick was aimed carefully with sufficient force to inflict pain despite the knight's armour, but was not strong enough to cause a fracture, making Glasdale kneel before Jeanne in pain.
"You have three days to consider about the Lord's proposition, in the mean time, I will keep your sword. We will be back in three days time and you will agree to a duel with Sir Aulon again, for your honor." Jeanne told the weeping knight coldly, before leaving with his sword.
"Demoness!" the beaten knight spat. And Isley, provoked, turned sharply towards him.
It had been centuries since she had heard that curse. Now, upon hearing that accusation laid upon Jeanne – one of the most dedicated claymores ever – brought forth a sudden outburst of rage from Isley, triggering his yoki levels to erupt violently. Such was the increase in yoki that it even caused many soldiers present to feel nauseous, making some of them puke over the parapet. Even Glasdale, a seasoned soldier, began to tremble violently. Jeanne quickly put her right hand on Isley's shoulder causing him to calm down, before turning over her shoulder to give one final advice:
"Know that the wrath of God is real noble knight."
Rennes le Chateau, Southern France
She felt it. She felt a hot, thick sense of rage flowing in the wind. She felt it sweeping down at her from the far north, 1500 miles away. And she knew whose force this belonged to. As she absorbed the monstrous yoki, Miria looked at her. She had probably felt something too, thought Tabitha. It has been centuries since she has literally felt Isley's wrath and ironically then, it was also from the North. The great distance between her and Isley had buffered the effects of the yoki on her, but this was not enough for it to go undetected by her. She quickly looked towards Miria and told her what she felt. The two of them immediately decided to make a trip up to Northern France, to determine the nature behind this sudden surge in yoki. Silently, they prayed from the deepest of their hearts that history will not repeat itself.
Jeanne is portrayed to be some who lacks tactical sense as she has no experience with war at all during her days as a hunter, the most she did command, were squads of warriors. I felt that the organization did not rank their warriors base on strategic competency but rather on their fighting capabilities. Eg. Miata and Ophelia. Isley however has proven himself to be a highly skillful commander, from the way he managed to break the 3 way stalemate with Riful and Luceila.
I've decided to introduce Miria and Tabitha next so the next few chapters will include some scenes on their journey across France, leave a review to tell be how you people find it and stay tuned for the next chapter: Battle of St Loup.